There is something ethereal about a perfectly baked tart that congers images of the quintessential Parisian Pâtisserie. This is a most pleasing pâte sucrée recipe, which is the foundation of the sweet tart. What you choose to fill and decorate this tart shell with is only limited by your inspired imagination.
Pâte sucrée is the French term for a sweetened butter based pastry dough that is traditionally used for tarts. This is a short crust dough which means that the fat in the dough shortens the gluten strands by interfering with the process that elongates them such as in bread dough. More importantly however, it means a tender and crumbly crust that is sublimely delicious.
2¼ cups (320 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup (85 grams) confectioner’s sugar
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces (227 grams) European style unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 large egg yolks, preferably organic
1-2 tablespoons iced mineral water
½ vanilla bean pod, seeds scraped from the pod, preferably Nielsen-Massey
How To Use Them:
Place an eight or nine inch tart pan with a removable bottom in the freezer. It is important to keep all of the components of this bake as cold as possible and this step aids in keeping the dough cold when placed in the tart. For the pâte sucrée, whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla bean seeds and water. Add the flour, salt, and sugar together in a food processor and pulse twice. Add the butter and pulse until the flour coated butter is the size of large peas, approximately 6-8 pulses. Add the ice water and egg mixture one tablespoon at a time, pulsing one time after each addition until dough holds together when squeezed. Turn the dough onto work surface and gather into a mound of dough. Use the fraisage method to layer the dough. Gather the dough and shape into an 8 inch disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling. Once chilled, roll the dough between two pieces of large parchment paper that have been lightly dusted with flour. Roll the dough until it is large enough in diameter to cover the base and sides of your tart pan and approximately 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top piece of parchment paper and gently flip the uncovered side down over the tart pan. Remove the now top piece of parchment paper and gently pat the dough in place along the bottom and sides of tart pan. Lift the dough gently and softly pat it into the edges of the tart pan. Remove any excess dough by running a rolling pin over the top of the pan and then smoothing the edges all around. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.Freeze for at least 15 minutes, but no longer than 30 minutes. Remove the tart pan from the freezer and liberally dock the dough with a fork to allow steam to escape and prevent air bubbles from forming. Place the tart on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat if available and blind bake the tart by covering it with two layers of foil that extend 2 inches over the diameter of the tart to ensure that no dough is exposed. Fill the lined tart with rice that fills at least half of the tart. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the dough appears baked and dry when the foil is lifted. Cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Remove the first layer of the foil with the rice and then the remaining layer of foil. The reason for the double layer is in case any mishaps occur while removing the rice, the tart will still be protected by the secondary sheet of foil.Your tart shell is now read to be used in your favorite tart recipe that requires a baked filling. If your filling does not require any additional baking, bake the shell for an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown, cool and complete with your choice of filling.